By Tom Watson
Tonight, I fully hope that this nation will recognize the first female President-Elect in our 240-year history. I also expect Hillary Clinton to represent all of the country if she accepts the mantle of leadership, and to offer a vision of inclusiveness and healing as we turn from the crude and ugly candidacy her opponent, to focus on the incredible achievement of a broad and truly diverse coalition.
That coalition is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of this election, and it’s personally thrilling that amidst the often ugly sexism and bigotry of these many months that such a diverse electorate stands ready to make history. That coalition includes many millions of “Hillary Men.”
A year and a half ago, Peter Daou and I argued explicitly in this space that our winning coalition must include the voices of men “committed to altering the power structure that has excluded or limited half the population for far too long.” Our #HillaryMen project lasted six months and created a model for pushing back firmly but decisively against anti-feminist narratives and sexist media frames. Ultimately, so many men stepped forward to smash the patriarchal limits of our political system.
Of course, many are renowned. President Obama, Vice President Biden, Vice Presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine and of course, former President Clinton led the way. Great Democrats like John Lewis, James Clyburn, Howard Dean, Elijah Cummings, and Harry Reid led the way. Senator Bernie Sanders righteously joined our ranks this summer, as did Al Gore and Martin O’Malley. The #HillaryMen team now includes Jay-Z, Michael Moore, Bruce Springsteen, Morgan Freeman, LeBron James and so many other boldface names.
Their commitment to electing Hillary Clinton as the first woman to lead our nation is worthy of respect and celebration, but to be honest, I’ll be thinking of other #HillaryMen as the returns come in and I reflect on those who stepped forward to support this campaign. In truth, there was some risk to pushing forward in public with an explicit gender lens on this election as men; some of us were crudely mocked, easily insulted, and occasionally threatened. First by the left, then by the right.
That’s okay. In the end, that stuff was rain off a tin roof: loud, but quickly headed for the drain. The long journey was worth it, especially for the allies we discovered, and the friendships we made, however virtual.
So I’ll be thinking of men like Robert Sandy, the intensely loyal Hillary supporter from Chicago whose gift for Twitter eloquence was matched only by his personal courage and determination to keep working through the death of his cherished mother. Or my friend and occasional co-conspirator Al Giordano, the radical journalist community organizer ex-patriot and major Obama supporter who was so moved by the diversity and grit of the Hillary coalition that he overcame his own reluctance and joined us with spectacular advocacy and always welcome humor. Or the omnipresent Armando Llorens, legal eagle and DailyKos writer who brought sharp elbows and sharper wit to the table every day. Allies like Peter Ciurczak, Oliver Willis, Greg Dworkin, Dana Houle, Eric Boehlert, John Stoehr, Jamison Foser, Lance Mannion, Matt Ortega, Alan Kestrel, Darren Hutchinson and many others. Journalists who remained politically impartial but wrote and conversed with an explicitly feminist voice - men like Jamil Smith, Jamelle Bouie, Josh Marshall, Mike Tomasky, James Fallows, Joe Conason, Greg Sargent, Adrian Carrasquillo, and David Corn.
They each brought a strong pro-feminist viewpoint to the roiling Twitter wars, and they weren’t afraid of where that took them.
It’s been one of the most rewarding aspects of this campaign working with them to continue (unofficially) the ideals of the original Hillary Men through the final vote. Here’s why: it’s not just about an allegiance to Hillary Clinton, as strong a public servant and as important as her historic campaign has been. It’s really about being willing to step away from the old rules of gender and ambition and leadership. To suffer a bit of discomfort in changing and shifting our own hidebound ideas. To be allies, to take a step back sometimes, and serve as the supporting cast. And most of all, to really understand just how far we’ve come - and how far we still have to go.
For many months, I’ve been engaged with my progressive and politically active Facebook friend Dike Obioma Matthew in a long dialogue on this election. A few days ago, Dike posted this comment and - with his permission - I’m sharing it here because it represents not just his own good and open spirit but the kind of awakening our society needs from men of goodwill.
The misogyny quotient in this election is one of the biggest ignored factors in this election.
Let me be honest: I had to 'check' myself and reassess some of the reasons why I didn't like her.
Some of my reasons were valid but some of was due to her 'delivery and manner' . . . which boiled down to, when I was brutally honest with myself, a subtle gender bias on my part! I wasn't proud of myself at that moment. I felt so bad. So I grounded myself in the FACTS about her and found myself more enthusiastic for her than I was.
Policy. platform. Voting record. Her proposals. More than 90% agreement on all. No brainer!
So well said. This morning, I walked over to the local high school with my son, who was voting for the first time in a Presidential election. The walk is about half a mile, and crossed all the athletic fields to approach the gym from the back of the campus. It’s a beautiful fall day and we chatted along the way. My other son is away at college and voted absentee, as did my daughter. They’re all strong feminists with different and varied viewpoints on the world. And yes, they school me constantly on a wide range of social issues. But it’s rare when a moment like this arrives, with its symbolic and simple endpoint. The walk was worth it to soak in some of that meaning.
Journeys are always that way. It’s been a privilege to walk alongside so many #HillaryMen, from the social media supporters of the earliest days to my companion in the sunshine this morning. And when our new President-Elect hopefully gives her speech tonight to the nation, and speaks as a woman on behalf of all Americans, I’ll take some satisfaction in the knowledge that like Peter, I walked with some of the men who made it possible - and helped set an example for our sons, as well as our daughters.